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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Graham’

Toward Tradition’s Dangerous Blind Spot

Wednesday, April 10th, 2002

They say if you live long enough you’ll see everything, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need the smelling salts this week. Sit, don’t stand, because the Monitor is compelled to defend the Anti-Defamation League and its national director, Abraham Foxman, against some outrageous statements made by Toward Tradition and its president, Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Most readers who choose to put up with the Monitor on a regular basis probably know that in the past this column has been less than kind to Mr. Foxman and wholly laudatory of Rabbi Lapin. Foxman’s posturing as Supreme Arbiter of what does and doesn’t constitute anti-Semitism is off-putting, to say the least, while Toward Tradition has offered a refreshing and much needed alternative to the reflexive liberalism espoused by the secular American Jewish establishment.

To its credit, Toward Tradition has been steadfast in defending Christian conservatives from the often injudicious and blanket indictments of their movement delivered by Jewish spokesmen the likes of Foxman, who on any given day tend to confuse the revelation at Sinai with that morning’s New York Times editorials. But in its zeal to protect conservative Christians when they come under undeserved attack from liberal Jews, Toward Tradition has increasingly displayed a troubling tendency to pooh-pooh the inexcusable when it emanates from conservative Christian sources..

The latest such case was the flap over Billy Graham’s unambiguously anti-Semitic remarks in a 1972 White House discussion with Richard Nixon, details of which were first made public two weeks ago (and discussed in last week’s Monitor). The ADL and Foxman, along with a number of other Jewish organizations, rightly denounced Graham’s comments. Lapin and Toward Tradition, on the other hand, denounced Foxman for denouncing Graham.

In a press release issued last week, Toward Tradition declared that it was calling “on the Anti-Defamation League to stop defaming the Rev. Billy Graham.” The ADL’s Foxman, the statement went on to say, had “assailed Graham as a purveyor of ‘age-old classical anti-Semitic canards,’ referring to secretly tape-recorded remarks Rev. Graham made to President Nixon 30 years ago. The ‘canard’ in question is that Jewish people are disproportionately represented among Hollywood and other media power brokers. Graham spoke to Nixon of a Jewish ?stranglehold’ on the American media.”

Next followed a lengthy quote from Rabbi Lapin, who lamented what he called “the unfairness of this ADL attack” on Graham. Lapin tried to justify that characterization by citing recent charges that the producer of a critically acclaimed film, mindful of Hollywood’s influential Jewish community and wary of blowing his chances for an Academy Award, “deliberately left out” of his movie any mention of its protagonist’s anti-Semitism.

To Lapin, such a decision was wholly understandable: “Given that the Hollywood establishment indeed includes a considerably greater proportion of people of Jewish ancestry than does the American populace as a whole,” said Lapin, “[the producer] was concerned that the Academy would justifiably spurn a film that lionized an anti-Semite. To call that a ‘stranglehold’ may not be polite, but it is no lie, either.”

Lapin then wondered “why it is acceptable” for the film’s producer “to acknowledge this reality, however implicitly; but when Billy Graham did so, long ago and in private, it was somehow different – ‘chilling and frightening,’ in Mr. Foxman’s words.”

What the Monitor finds chilling and frightening is Lapin’s seeming inability to distinguish between a film producer’s decision to sanitize his story – even if the decision was based on self-interest rooted in the recognition that Jews play an important role in his industry – and the revelation that America’s best-known and most respected preacher was capable of engaging in the most hateful of anti-Semitic diatribes behind the closed doors of the Oval Office.

And lest anyone think Toward Tradition was satisfied with merely defending Graham, a revised press release issued a few days after the first actually called on the ADL “to apologize for defaming the Rev. Billy Graham.”

Good work, Abe Foxman. For shame, Daniel Lapin.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com  

Anti-Semitism Of An American Icon

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2002
It was one of those stories that forever change the way an important public figure is perceived. But if you rely for your news on any or even all of the New York dailies, you might have overlooked – or entirely missed – the disturbing revelation that the Rev. Billy Graham, while at the height of his fame and influence 30 years ago, uttered anti-Semitic slurs and stereotypes in the company of an all-too-pleased Richard Nixon.The story made a surprisingly small media splash in New York because the day after the latest batch of Nixon presidential tapes was made public last week, the city’s papers – the Times, the Post, the News and Newsday – all chose to carry short wire-service copy about an entirely different Nixon conversation, one in which the president is heard musing to Henry Kissinger on whether the U.S. might want to nuke North Vietnam.

Only after Graham, now 83 and in declining health, issued an apology (while at the same time claiming to “have no memory of the occasion”) did the local papers pick up on the story last weekend. Even then, though, the coverage was still muted and cursory.

It was the Chicago Tribune’s James Warren who first reported Graham’s shocking remarks, and the tone of Warren’s story made clear that he, at least, recognized a story with major historical implications. Graham, after all, has for decades been one of America’s most admired figures, a national icon, a man respected across the board for his seeming sincerity, rock-solid faith and openness to working with those whose beliefs differ from his own.

But a different side of Graham came to the fore during a 90-minute White House meeting he had with Nixon on Feb. 1, 1972. Graham was particularly exercised by what he saw as the “stranglehold” Jews maintained on the American media.

“This stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” Graham intoned.

“You believe that?” asked Nixon.

“Yes, sir,” said Graham.

“Oh, boy,” Nixon responded. “So do I. I can’t ever say that but I believe it.”

“No,” Graham concurred, “but if you get elected a second time, then we might be able to do something about it.”

As Warren points out, the Graham-Nixon conversation was alluded to in the diaries of Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman, but it wasn’t until last week that the actual transcript, in all its damning detail, was released to the public.

Haldeman had written that Graham and Nixon voiced strong concern about Jewish control of the media, and that “Graham has the strong feeling that the Bible says there are Satanic Jews and there’s where our problem arises.” (That particular remark seems to have been excised from the tape, which contained a number of deletions.)

The subject of Jews and the media comes up on a tape when Graham mentions that he’d been invited to have lunch with Time magazine editors.

“You meet with all their editors, you better take your Jewish beanie,” Haldeman joked.

“Is that right?” Graham said, laughing. “I don’t know any of them now.”

Nixon then told Graham that he had heard from the executive producer of “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” a popular television program at the time, that “11 of the 12 writers are Jewish.” Nixon also described Life, Newsweek, The New York Times and other leading news publications as being “totally dominated by the Jews.”

And Nixon added that while network news anchors Howard K. Smith, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite were mere “front men who may not be of that persuasion,” their writers were “95 percent Jewish.”

“A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” said Graham a little later in the conversation. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me. Because they know I am friendly to Israel and so forth. They don’t know how I really feel about what they’re doing to this country.”

To which Nixon responded, “You must not let them know.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/media-monitor-37/2002/04/03/

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